Mixed Methods Research

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Commissioned by the

Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)
Helen I. Meissner, Ph.D., Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research


John W. Creswell, Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ann Carroll Klassen, Ph.D., Drexel University
Vicki L. Plano Clark, Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Katherine Clegg Smith, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

With the assistance of a specially appointed Working Group

Suggested citation:

Creswell JW, Klassen AC, Plano Clark VL, Smith KC for the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. Best practices for mixed methods research in the health sciences. August 2011. National Institutes of Health.


In November 2010, the OBSSR of the NIH commissioned the leadership team of John W. Creswell, Ann Klassen, Vicki L. Plano Clark, and Katherine Clegg Smith to develop a resource that would provide guidance to NIH investigators on how to rigorously develop and evaluate mixed methods research applications. Pursuant to this, the team developed a report of “best practices” following three major objectives.

To develop practices that:

  • assist investigators using mixed methods as they develop competitive applications for support from NIH;
  • assist reviewers and staff for review panels at NIH who evaluate applications that include mixed methods research;
  • provide the OBSSR and the NIH Institutes and Centers with "best practices" to use as they consider potential contributions of mixed methods research, select reviewers, plan new initiatives, and set priority areas for their science.

OBSSR convened a Working Group of 19 individuals (see Appendix A. NIH Working Group on Developing Best Practices for Mixed Methods Research 31 KB) to review a preliminary draft of “best practices.” This Group was comprised of experienced scientists, research methodologists, and NIH health scientists. These individuals were selected because of their expertise in NIH investigations, their specific knowledge of mixed methods research, and their experience in the scientific review process. The composition of the Working Group was diverse with members representing such fields as public health, medicine, mental health professions, psychology, sociology, anthropology, social work, education, and nursing. This Working Group met in late April 2011, and reviewed and made recommendations for the final document presented in this report.

This report consists of seven sections: